Looking for a fun and creative activity this year for the entire family? Make a homemade cranberry and popcorn garland to decorate the tree.
There is something fun about making homemade decorations during the holiday season.
Creating your own ornaments (like these DIY blackboard stars), making dried orange slices to hang on the Christmas tree, working together as a family to make your own garland while watching your favorite Christmas movies, etc. Spending quality time making decor together can be one of the most enjoyable holiday traditions you share with your family.
That is why I like to change up my Christmas themes each year. It allows me to imagine new ways to use things we have, and it gives opportunities to create fun memories together.
This year I decided to create an old-fashioned cranberry popcorn garland for a more homemade feeling Christmas theme.
When l was a girl, we used to make these when we celebrated an old fashioned Christmas at our friends’ cabin. We would go out, find our tree and cut it down. Then we would gather wild, decorative grasses into clumps for ornaments. Finally, we would sit around the table with popped popcorn and fresh cranberries and string them onto thread for the tree.
I wanted my kids to experience a taste of that childhood memory, so this year we worked together to make popcorn and cranberry chains.
The best part about making your own DIY popcorn garland, is that it is easy to make and it adds festive colors to your tree using natural materials.
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Can You Use Fresh Cranberries?
Before we started this project, I wanted to address this question, so you would know what to expect.
The answer is, yes, you can.
However fresh cranberries will start to shrivel and may rot after a while. If you are going to make fresh cranberry and popcorn chains, wait until closer to Christmas to make them. You can also use dried cranberries, though this does differ from the traditional look and will give your cranberry and popcorn chain a different feel.
If you are wanting to try your hand at some good old-fashioned decorating, below are the step-by-step instructions on how to make your own popcorn and cranberry garland. You can also add cinnamon sticks, pine cones and dehydrated oranges to your tree to create your own natural ornaments.
- Bags of cranberries (They are often on sale during the holidays)
- Popcorn kernels
- A popcorn maker (I use this microwave popcorn maker and love it)
- Regular sewing thread – Polyester blend, or nylon is the best. Cotton tends to knot easily.
- Regular Sewing Needle or Embroidery Needle – The embroidery needle is better for smaller kids as it is not as sharp
How to Make a Homemade Popcorn and Cranberry Garland
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
If you have time, it is a good ideas to pop your popcorn ahead. Stale popcorn stays together better and won’t break apart as easily when you are stringing the popcorn onto your popcorn string.
Decide the length of the garland you want to make, and cut your thread to match that length. If you choose to make a long garland, be aware that the longer the thread, the easier it is to get knotted and tangled, so keep that in mind for any smaller helpers you might have. I found that the polyester blend or nylon thread works best. The cotton thread I used, tangled so terribly that I had to throw it out.
Tie a large knot at the end of the thread and slide the needle onto the other end.
Step 2: Add the Cranberries and Popcorn
Poke the cranberries and popcorn onto the needle and slide them to the end of the string in whatever pattern you choose.
We decided to put 2 cranberries on and then added 10 pieces of white popcorn. Then 2 cranberries, 10 popcorn, etc.
Note: The thread is more likely to tangle when you are sliding your popcorn and cranberries down to the bottom. Slowly sliding the pieces of popcorn and cranberries down the thread in sets, was the best way to keep the thread from knotting as we went.
Step 3: Tie off the Thread
When you have finished sliding all of the cranberries and popcorn onto your thread, tie off the end to keep everything from slipping back off.
Your garland is ready to use in your decorating.
How Long Does the Popcorn Cranberry Garland Last
It will last a week or 2.
After that time, the cranberries will start to look shriveled or turn dark in color.
If you need it to last longer, create chains with only popcorn. You can always make a few popcorn and cranberry chains closer to Christmas to add the red color in or add red wooden beads from the craft store onto your holiday garland. Or, if you like the look, but making it each year is too much work, you can purchase fake cranberry and popcorn garland and use it year after year.
Can You Feed the Popcorn and Cranberry Chains to the Birds after Christmas?
Yes. Popcorn and cranberries can be a fun treat for birds in the winter.
Just make sure that you don’t add any salt or flavoring to the popcorn if you are planning on doing this, as the extra sodium is not good for the birds.
Ways to Use a Homemade Cranberry and Popcorn Garland
Once you have finished your garland, you can drape the garland on the tree or mantel for a beautiful red and white display. Or twist it on a railing with some pine garland for a festive look.
Just remember that the popcorn is brittle, so you will have to work carefully so you don’t ruin your garland.
We did have to keep the last layer of the tree popcorn garland free because our dog was interested in trying a sample, so if you have animals you may need to watch that they don’t take a bite of your hard work.
This homemade garland was a fun way for my family to work together to create decorations for our home that are both festive and natural.
If you want to get more ideas on how to create an old fashioned Christmas theme for your decorations, take a look at these old fashioned Christmas ideas for your home.
Want to remember this idea? Save it to your favorite Holiday board on Pinterest.
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